Excerpt About the NSA Program from Risen’s Book

by | Jan 7, 2006 | Stress Blog


“The small handful of experts on national security law within the government who know about the NSA program say they believe it has made a mockery of the public debate over the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act of 2001 has been widely criticized for giving the government too much power to engage in secret searches and to spy on suspects, and even some Republicans chafed at the idea of giving the government still more surveillance powers under an extended and expanded version. The Patriot Act has increased the ability of the nation’s intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to monitor conversations and Internet traffic by terrorist suspects with the approval of the special FISA court. But it still requires the FBI to obtain search warrants from the FISA court each time it wants to eavesdrop on a telephone conversation, e-mail message, or other form of communication within the United States. In order to obtain a warrant from the FISA court, the FBI must present evidence to show that the target is linked to a terrorist organization or other foreign agent or power. Even then, the FBI has, in comparison with the NSA, relatively limited technological resources and doesn’t have the ability to monitor huge telecommunications networks. It lacks NSA’s banks of supercomputers at Fort Meade, believed to be home to the greatest concentration of computing power in the world…

The Program was still active in late 2005, several officials said.”

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